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Harry Cassin
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Corruption by the barrel: oil and graft

The top 20 oil producing nations have an average rank on the corruption perceptions index of 90 — just into the bottom half.

Not all are big exporters and not all are low on the cpi. Norway, the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. are examples.

But for most of the others, corruption is a problem.

Whether their corruption came first or followed the oil bonanza is open to debate. We’ll be looking at that in more posts to come.

What’s true is that oil companies nearly always work in a challenging compliance environment. The stakes are high and most deals involve a foreign government that owns the hydrocarbon under foot.

Among oil companies that have appeared in FCPA enforcement actions are Ashland Oil, El Paso, Triton, Shell, Statoil, and Chevron, among others.

Dealing with dictators and despots who want a private piece of the action is tough. But like coral made stronger by a pounding surf, compliance programs inside oil and gas companies often have a special robustness.

If that weren’t true, a lot of them wouldn’t have survived thirty-five years with the FCPA.

*     *     *

Here are the top 20 oil producing nations (based on data from the CIA World Factbook).

Their rank on the corruption perceptions index is in parentheses.

1     Saudi Arabia (66)   

2     Russia  (133)

3     United States (19)   

4     Iran  ((133)   

5     China (80)

6     Canada (9)  

7     Mexico (105)   

8     United Arab Emirates (27)

9     Iraq  (169)   

10     Nigeria  (139)   

11     Kuwait  (66)  

12     Venezuela  (165)   

13     Brazil  (69) 

14     European Union  (n/a)

15     Norway (7)  

16     Algeria  (105)

17     Angola  (157) 

18     Libya  (160)  

19     Kazakhstan  (133)

20     Qatar  (27)   

21     United Kingdom (17)

22     Azerbaijan  (139)  

23     Indonesia  (118)   

24     India  (94) 

25     Oman  (61) 

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